Popular television show, Billions, brings together the worlds of wealth, influence, and corruption through Hedge Fund king Bobby Axelrod and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades. Impeccably written and produced, Billions also provides shrewd advice on how to navigate the trials and tribulations of a corporate career – with pragmatic, entertaining lessons drawn from various encounters throughout the show.
We have put together some of the best career lessons from Billions, finding inspiration from various different character interactions throughout the first three seasons. Just as the characters in Billions are always looking to get ahead, on-boarding some of the advice below will invariably help you acquire some of the professionals skills that have led these characters in Billions to reach the top of their respective fields.
Number 10 – Just Get Smarter
In the season opener, Bobby teaches you that it doesn’t matter if you went to Stanford and Wharton if the guy from Hofstra knows more than you. You also don’t need to kiss ass, just get smarter.
Number 9 – The Long Game
What you learn from the Mike Dimonda scene when Chuck Rhoades ambushes him at his home is that, don’t be short sighted. Instead of taking the quick and easy yet small win, Mike leverages that meeting for future access to more important press releases. You can think about the short game but always be thinking about winning the long game.
Number 8 – Earn Your Spot
When the Yumtime chairman of the board tells the CEO that his father thought he was a lug head, it was a quick lesson that others likely thought the same too. Earning respect is everything and expecting it just because of who your father was or who you know or whatever status symbol you carry with you doesn’t work so well. As you build a career, if you want to be a well-respected leader amongst peers, you’re going to have to earn it. Otherwise people will be whispering around corners about how you don’t deserve the spot you have in life.
Number 7 – Confidence and Loyalty
Learn from Dollar Bill. Confident, brazen and smart with a hacker mentality when it comes to results. When he is sitting down with the AG and doesn’t bend to their leveraging he responds with “I am kaizer soze mf’er,” who wants to mess with that person? The passive, meek and disloyal never reap the full benefits.
Number 6 – Step It Up
Wags tells Ben Kim to STEP IT UP after Ben brought in Ethiopian food that you eat with your hands for the executive team. Wags points out to Ben that is this an opportunity to be in the company of the executive team and that he needed to act at a higher level. The lesson here is and we seen this often in our businesses: When you have a chance to be around the people that are the executive team, those that can be mentors and give you access to things most don’t get, you need to make the most of those opportunities.
Number 5 – Zip It
When McPhee walks into Axes office after being warned twice about the trade yet does it again, he gets temporarily fired. This is a quick lesson in not questioning the master. You can inquire but if you see emotional resistance from your manager just walk away and let them fail by their own judgement. You cannot monetize told-you-so’s, so just zip it.
Number 4 – Don’t Be A Weasel
When Dr. Gus tries to tell Axe that he can replace Wags, Axe calls him out on back stabbing the person that got you the job in the first place. The higher you climb the ladder the more loyalty is expected. The more of a slime ball you are, the bigger the target on your back.
Number 3 – Know The Right People
The greatest lesson from Chuck Rhoades Sr., from the help with the Senate seat to the Kingmaker aka Black Jack Doley, is that building relationships matter. Sure you can get somewhere in life through hard work and intelligence but nothing will help you build a career and wealth faster than knowing the right people.
Number 2 – Don’t Be Meek
Another Dr. Gus lesson, the meek rarely get what they want in life. You eat what you kill and in this world the more whining and complaining you do, the less you get. It’s all for the taking, you just have to be aggressive and take it.
Number 1 – Do Your Research
The #1 lesson from Bobby Axelrod is: do your research, know the facts and your numbers better be dead on otherwise your superiors will be gnawing on your carcass with a $500 Cabernet with 20 grams of black truffles.